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Scarlet Letter Dimmesdale Essay

The Change Of Dimmesdale In The Scarlet Letter

Many characters go through transformations in The Scarlet Letter, and one of those characters is Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale. Author Nathaniel Hawthorne writes of a puritan society, and it is the laws of that society, both written and unwritten, that Dimmesdale breaks and which causes the changes to occur. He commits the sin of adultery, and by sleeping with Hester Prynne, breaks the laws that he is supposed to represent. He cannot admit his sin because he is a holy man, and admitting his sin would mean losing the faith of his congregation. Instead he struggles with his sin and tortures himself in an effort to gain forgiveness for what he has done. Dimmesdale is described as the worst of sinners, yet he is seen as the holiest man in his community. Dimmesdale's progression occurs throughout the story, but can be seen in three main parts. He first denies his sin, then he unwillingly accepts it, and finally he overcomes it. The three scaffold scenes can represent these three stages.

In the first scaffold scene, the town is out to witness the punishment of Hester Prynne, and some of the women are suggesting other punishments. The women are also talking about Hester and Dimmesdale. "'People say,' said another, "˜that the Reverend Master Dimmesdale, her godly pastor, takes it very grievously to heart that such a scandal should have come upon his congregation'" (49). The community sees Reverend Dimmesdale as a godly man who does not commit sin. In the beginning he feels fine and does not feel any guilt. Dimmesdale is trying to convince Hester to reveal the man who has sinned along with her, so the man can be relieved of his guilt, which is ironic because he is the man who has sinned with her.

What can thy silence do for him, except it tempt him-yea, compel him, as it were-to add hypocrisy to sin? Heaven hath granted thee an open ignominy, that thereby thou mayest work out an open triumph over the evil within thee and the sorrow without. Take heed how thou deniest to him-who, perchance, hath not the courage to grasp it for himself-the bitter, but wholesome, cup that is now presented to thy lips! (65) By speaking to Hester this way, he makes sure nobody suspects him of any wrongdoing. He knows that if the community discovers his sin, they will never forgive him. It also seems that he is trying to tell Hester not to reveal his secret, and she does not. Even though he secretly wants his sin to be exposed, he is happy to know that Hester won't be the one to expose it. This is the first scaffold scene and Reverend Dimmesdale is not showing any signs of guilt yet.

By the time Dimmesdale is on the scaffold again, a few changes have taken place. He has begun to start to feel guilty about his sin and for not confessing it. He whips himself, has all...

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Arthur Dimmesdale in The Scarlet Letter Essay

1578 Words7 Pages

The Scarlet LetterArthur Dimmesdale Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, a main character in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter, proves to be a sinner against man, against God and most importantly against himself because he has committed adultery with Hester Prynne, resulting in an illegitimate child, Pearl. His sinning against himself, for which he ultimately paid the price of death, proved to be more harmful and more destructive than this sin of the flesh, and his sin against God. Socrates said, “Knowthyself,” and Shakespeare said, “To thine own self be true.” If Reverend Dimmesdale had been true to himself he certainly wouldn’t have suffered as much as he did. What drove Dimmesdale to hold in his self-condemning truth? To…show more content…

Dimmesdale portrays himself very ironically. He is a very well respected reverend and yet, has, for the last 7 years, worked on preaching the word of God, especially while he urges the congregation to confess openly to repent unto God. While, in reality, Dimmesdale is the one whoneeds a clean conscious. He feels like he needs to confess not only to the town but also too himself. Halfway through the novel

Dimmesdale has yet to reveal the truth, which, so far, has been devouring him,physically and mentally. Since this good reverend is so spiritual, he cannot reveal his truths to the town so simply. He is of the Puritan faith and being a follower of that, the sin of adultery is a very grand sin. The whole town would look down on him as if he were a hypocrite. Which in fact, he is, but his sin of adultery in that town would have been scoffed at just as Hester’s has. The reverend is so well liked by the townsfolk that
Hawthorne states, “They fancied him the mouthpiece of Heaven’s messages of wisdom, rebuke, and love. In their eyes, the very ground on which he trod was sanctified.” ( 139 ) How else can the reverend live without revealing his identity? He has been doing it for seven years, and it must be hard for him, mentally and physically. Mentally, his whole body shuts down because he cannot take it anymore, even though he does not give in to confess yet. He has become emaciated because he has let the sin against himself churn

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